11 Best Songs of the Week: Jessie Ware, Kings of Convenience, Faye Webster, Piroshka, and More | Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Tuesday, May 28th, 2024  

11 Best Songs of the Week: Jessie Ware, Kings of Convenience, Faye Webster, Piroshka, and More

Plus black midi, CHAI, Squid, Anika, Hiatus Kaiyote, and a Wrap-up of the Week’s Other Notable New Tracks

Apr 30, 2021 Bookmark and Share

Welcome to the 16th Songs of the Week of 2021. This week President Biden celebrated 100 days in office with a speech to Congress that laid out his accomplishments (including a successful rollout of COVID-19 vaccines) and ambitious future plans. While the pandemic situation has been improving in the U.S., things remain particularly bad in India and Brazil.

In Under the Radar news, Don’t forget that last week we announced our new print issue. The issue features Japanese Breakfast and HAIM on the two covers and is another edition of The Protest Issue, which examines the intersection of music and politics and features musicians photographed with protest signs of their own making. It follows Protest Issues we also published in 2004, 2008, 2012, and 2016.

The issue also features Julien Baker, Wolf Alice, Tegan and Sara, Arlo Parks, Fleet Foxes, Jessie Ware, Shamir, Lucy Dacus, Valerie June, David Byrne, Julian Casablancas, Thurston Moore, Squid, Dry Cleaning, The Weather Station, CHAI, Future Islands, Mogwai, Cassandra Jenkins, Billy Bragg, Bartees Strange, Phoebe Bridgers, The Decemberists, and much more. The issue is out now nationwide (on newsstands, in such stores as Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million, and elsewhere) and available to buy directly from us here.

Now onto Songs of the Week and this week’s other content on our website. It’s a Top 11 songs this week. It was originally a Top 10 like regular, but then at the last minute we realized there was a great song we completely forgot to add so we just made it a Top 11.

In the last week we posted interviews with Alex Somers and J. Period.

In the last week we also reviewed a bunch of albums.

To help you sort through the multitude of fresh songs released in the last week, we have picked the 10 best the last week had to offer, along with highlighting other notable new tracks shared in the last seven days. Check out the full list below.

1. Jessie Ware: “Please”

Jessie Ware released a new album, What’s Your Pleasure?, last year via PMR/Friends Keep Secrets/Interscope. It was #5 on our Top 100 Albums of 2020 list. On Wednesday, she announced a deluxe edition of the album, titled What’s Your Pleasure? The Platinum Pleasure, and shared a new song from it, the playful and dancefloor-ready “Please.” Check out the deluxe edition’s tracklist here.

The deluxe edition includes eight extra tracks (including six new songs, the previously released “Overtime,” and a remix of “Adore You”). It will be available on all formats, including double vinyl and double cassette.

Ware had this to say in a press release: “I had such an amazing response to the What’s Your Pleasure? record that I didn’t want the lights to go up and the party to be over just yet! ‘Please’ is full of optimism and ready to be played in a place where we can all be together and flirt, dance, touch, and kiss. A wonderful excuse not to stop the party from ending.”

Pick up our current print issue (Issue 68) to read our exclusive interview with Jessie Ware on What’s Your Pleasure?

What’s Your Pleasure? was Ware’s fourth album and the follow-up to 2017’s Glasshouse. The album featured an array of collaborators, including Kindness, Danny Parker, Shungudzo Kuyimba, Clarence Coffee Jr., Benji B, Midland, Morgan Geist (Storm Queen), Matthew Tavares, Metronomy’s Joseph Mount, and James Ford (who was the primary collaborator on the album). The album’s “Remember Where You Are” was our #1 Song of the Week and also made it on former President Barack Obama’s playlist of his favorite songs of 2020. In February she shared a video for the song that starred British actress Gemma Arterton and also performed the song on The Graham Norton Show.

Read our 2017 Self-Portrait interview with Jessie Ware.

Read our 2014 interview with Jessie Ware.

2. Kings of Convenience: “Rocky Trail”

Today, beloved Norwegian folk duo Kings of Convenience (Eirik Glambek Bøe and Erlend Øye) announced their first new studio album in 12 years, Peace or Love, and shared its delightful first single, “Rocky Trail,” via a video for the song (which is also their first new song in 12 years). Peace or Love is due out June 18 via EMI. Détour directed the video, which seems to have been shot in one take and features the duo and partners/friends in a colorful loft apartment/painter’s studio. Check out the album’s tracklist and cover art, as well as the band’s upcoming tour dates (including two shows at London’s Royal Festival Hall), here. Welcome back guys!

“Another classic Eirik composition that skilfully ignores the verse-chorus-verse blueprint,” says Øye of “Rocky Trail” in a press release. “It’s pop music, but not as we know it.”

The duo’s last album was 2009’s Declaration of Dependence. Peace or Love was recorded over the course of five years, in five different cities. The press release says the album “is the sound of two old friends exploring the latest phase of their lives together and finding new ways to capture that elusive magic” and that it features “11 songs about life and love with the alluring beauty, purity, and emotional clarity that you would expect from Kings of Convenience.”

3. Faye Webster: “Cheers”

On Tuesday, Atlanta-based singer/songwriter Faye Webster announced the release of her new album, titled I Know I’m Funny haha, which will be due out on June 25 via Secretly Canadian. Webster also shared a video for the album’s lead single “Cheers” and has announced a new fall 2021 tour. Check out the album’s tracklist/cover art and full list of tour dates here.

Webster speaks about the new song in a press release: “Right after the first take. It felt different to me and it made it feel like I was entering a new era and chapter for myself. It’s kind of the outlier on the record but at the same time is still so original and identifying to myself. Also it just makes me feel like a badass for once.”

Swinsky adds, regarding the video, which features Atlanta bikers SIG and the Real Bike Life Only riders: “I’ve known SIG and the bike life guys for many years now. If cameras were not present these guys are still riding for their own enjoyment. People love what they do and yet there are still many people who are so quick to judge and label them in a hateful way. Everyone of them that I’ve met has been kind, welcoming and hospitable to us so that inspires me to continue documenting them the best I can.”

I Know I’m Funny haha was recorded in Athens, GA with producer/mixer Drew Vandenberg (Deerhunter, Of Montreal, Kishi Bashi). It features Harold Brown on drums, Bryan Howard on bass, Nic Rosen on keys, and Matt “Pistol” Stoessel on pedal steel.

Previously released songs from the upcoming album include “Better Distractions” and “In a Good Way.” Webster’s previous album, Atlanta Millionaires Club, came out in 2019 on Secretly Canadian. By Joey Arnone

4. Piroshka: “Scratching at the Lid”

On Tuesday, Piroshka announced the release of their second studio album, Love Drips and Gathers, which will be out on July 23 via Bella Union. They also shared a new song from the album titled “Scratching at the Lid,” via a video for it. Check out the album’s tracklist and cover art (plus the band’s UK tour dates) here.

Piroshka features members of various iconic British acts. The band is fronted by former Lush singer Miki Berenyi (vocals/guitar) and also includes former Moose guitarist KJ “Moose” McKillop, Modern English bassist Mick Conroy, and former Elastica drummer Justin Welch.

The band’s first album, Brickbat, came out in 2019 on Bella Union.

Berenyi speaks about the new album in a press release: “If Brickbat was our Britpop album, then Love Drips and Gathers is shoegaze! It wasn’t intentional; we just wanted a different focus. I’ve always seen debut albums as capturing a band’s first moments, when you really have momentum, and then the second album is the chance for a more thoughtful approach.”

Conroy adds: “Brickbat was a classic first album; noisy and raucous. On Love Drips and Gathers, we’ve calmed down and explored sounds, and space.”

Brickbat featured the songs “Everlasting Yours” (one of our Songs of the Week) and “What’s Next?” (another one of our Songs of the Week).

Read our 2019 interview with Piroshka on Brickbat.

Read our My Favorite Album interview with Miki Berenyi. By Joey Arnone

5. black midi: “Slow”

On Wednesday, black midi shared an animated video for their new single “Slow,” taken from their forthcoming album Cavalcade, to be released on May 28 via Rough Trade. The band has also announced a North American tour to take place this fall and done a KEXP session. Check out the full list of tour dates and the KEXP session here.

According to a press release, the song is described as “the story of a young and idealistic revolutionary dreaming of a better world who ends up being shot in the national stadium after a coup d’état.”

Holtenäs speaks about the concept behind the video: “The ‘Slow’ video was made to fit the oscillating dynamics of the song. Going from calm to chaos over and over again. The video tells the story of a character who creates AI-generated worlds. To emphasize this, I let real AI’s generate a lot of the backgrounds in these worlds. So they are partly AI-generated, but It isn’t long before an AI could create the whole deal and create endless iterations of fantasy worlds. It can already create a random beautiful landscape painting in 1 second.”

The band previously shared the song “John L” (which was #1 on our Songs of the Week) upon Cavalcade’s announcement. Their debut album, Schlagenheim, came out in 2019 on Rough Trade, and made it to #30 on our Top 100 Albums of 2019 list. By Joey Arnone

6. CHAI: “Ping Pong!” (Feat. YMCK)

Japan’s CHAI are releasing a new album, WINK, on May 21 via Sub Pop. On Wednesday, they shared another song from it, “Ping Pong!,” via a music video inspired by retro 8-bit video games. The song features YMCK and is about…ping pong, but it’s a lot of catchy fun.

CHAI collectively had this to say about the song in a press release: “We’re channeling our inner playful selves, challenging ourselves to fun, and bringing you that nostalgic-feel with this song! There’s just something about old video games that’s super cute, a little tacky, yet at the same time fancy. Something that you think is “old-school” but at the same time super refreshing. YMCK collaborated with us on this and created the ultimate 8bit World of CHAI!... The theme for ‘PING PONG’ is exactly as is, ‘ping pong.’ In Japanese culture, there’s this routine where Hot Springs or ‘onsen’ and playing PING PONG go hand in hand. When the four of us hit the hot springs, we always wear a Yukata (unlined Summer kimono), drink a cup of milk, and go right into some PING PONG! It’s very Japanese, something we don’t think exists overseas and that’s exactly what we want to share! You can hear it in the lyrics and you can feel it in the music video!”

YMCK adds: “It was our first time creating something from start to finish remotely but everything turned out amazing with each member’s character shining through!
Don’t miss this ever-so free and forever dancing world of CHAI!”

Pick up our current print issue (Issue 68) to read our exclusive interview with CHAI on WINK.

The band features Mana (lead vocals and keys), Kana (guitar), Yuna (drums), and Yuuki (bassist-lyricist).

The band previously shared the songs “ACTION,” “Donuts Mind If I Do,” and “Maybe Chocolate Chips” (featuring Ric Wilson) from WINK. “Maybe Chocolate Chips” was one of our Songs of the Week. Then they shared another song from it, “Nobody Knows We Are Fun,” via a video for the single (which also made our Songs of the Week).

CHAI’s sophomore album, PUNK, was released in 2019 on Burger. Back in August of last year, CHAI teamed up with Spanish rock band Hinds for the joint single “United Girls Rock‘n’Roll Club.”

7. Squid: “Pamphlets”

On Tuesday, Squid shared a new single titled “Pamphlets.” They also announced a new tour, which will kick off this fall and feature several stops in the U.S. (making it their first U.S. tour). Their forthcoming album, Bright Green Field, will be out on May 7 via Warp. Check out the full list of tour dates here.

Frontman Ollie Judge speaks about the new song in a press release: “It’s about all the rubbish right-wing propaganda you get through your front door. It imagines a person with that as their only source of news being taken over by these pamphlets.”

The band previously shared the songs “Narrator” (which was #1 on our Songs of the Week) and “Paddling” (another one of our Songs of the Week) from the upcoming album.

Pick up Under the Radar’s new print issue (Issue 68) to read our new interview with Squid. By Joey Arnone

8. Anika: “Finger Pies”

Berlin-based singer Anika has recently signed to Sacred Bones and on Tuesday she shared a video for her new single “Finger Pies.” It is her first new song release in eight years and is being released in collaboration with Invada Records. The video was directed by Anika alongside Sven Gutjahr.

Anika elaborates on the song in a press release: “A song that never had a name, like an artist that never had a face. Caught between roles, a jack of all trades, she slips between your fingers like a moment that never was, or was it? So many faces tailored to a myriad of occasions. Walls built between ourselves and the outside world. For protection. Passes grant access to another level. So where are you at? Those with all the keys, please remember, access comes with responsibility. Yet responsibility has been lost, like tissue paper in the rain, a battle without rules, to save face, exploit weakness, to save getting slayed, by the faceless generation. Welcome to the world of ‘Finger Pies.’”

Anika’s self-titled debut was released in 2010 on Stones Throw. Her most recent solo release was 2013’s Anika EP. The press release promises more new music from Anika this year. By Joey Arnone

9. Hiatus Kaiyote: “Red Room”

On Tuesday, Melbourne-based group Hiatus Kaiyote shared a video for their new song “Red Room.” It is the latest release from their forthcoming album Mood Valiant, due out on June 25 via Brainfeeder/Ninja Tune.

“Red Room” was created by the band in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and features contributions by Brazilian arranger Arthur Verocal.

Frontwoman Naomi “Nai Palm” Saalfield speaks about the inspiration behind the new song in a press release: “My vocal booth had a red light in it, and I was thinking about my old house that had all this red-colored glass in it. When the sun set in my room at a certain hour my whole room was red.”

Drummer Perrin Moss adds: “Essentially it was just having fun, man. We were warm, we were in another country. Of course, not knowing there was a big pandemic coming, the context of the ‘red room’ now and what that means to everyone sitting in isolation is kind of relevant.”

The band’s most recent album, Choose Your Weapon, came out in 2015 on Flying Buddha/Sony Masterworks.

Read our 2013 interview with Hiatus Kaiyote. By Joey Arnone

10. Cola Boyy: “Kid Born in Space” (feat. Andrew VanWyngarden of MGMT)

On Wednesday, Cola Boyy (aka Matthew Urango) shared a video for his new song “Kid Born in Space.” The song features Andrew VanWyngarden of MGMT, along with additional production by Patrick Wimberly of Chairlift. The single is out now MGMT’s new label, MGMT Records, in conjunction with the French label Record Makers.

Urango speaks about the song in a press release: “When I was a kid I was convinced that no one could understand what I was going through and feeling, I was embittered and angry. The song is me explaining to my younger self to let go of worries about people staring or not understanding. Everyone has their struggles, and problems that shape them.”

He adds: “This track is the culmination of a true friendship. In 2018, MGMT invited me on their tour, during which we became very close. I spent time with Andrew in his studio at home in New York. When I played him ‘Kid Born in Space,’ he liked it straight away and everything happened naturally from there: James Richardson played guitars and keyboards, Patrick Wimberly engineered and refined the production, and then Andrew and I finished it up in LA. I am really grateful to them.”

Last month, an MGMT remix of Metronomy’s “The Look” was released. By Joey Arnone

11. Squirrel Flower: “I’ll Go Running”

On Thursday, Squirrel Flower (aka Ella O’Connor Williams) shared a new single titled “I’ll Go Running” from her upcoming album Planet (i), which will be out on June 25 via Polyvinyl. Williams also announced that she will be the supporting act for Soccer Mommy on a North American tour to take place this fall. Check out the full list of tour dates here.

Williams speaks about her new song in a press release: “‘I’ll Go Running’ is about the darker side of being an artist—the pressure to make things brand new, shocking, to give everything away and open yourself completely without always getting intentional listening and consumption in return. To be vulnerable to a knife. To be fresh, new, to give it all away. But it’s powerful to offer yourself and your art without fear, which is what I try to do with this album. That’s why this is the opening track.”

The song “Hurt a Fly” was shared last month upon the announcement of Planet (i). Williams’ debut album as Squirrel Flower, I Was Born Swimming, came out last year on Polyvinyl. By Joey Arnone

Honorable Mentions:

These six songs almost made the Top 10.

Charles: “Remember Blushing”

Cheekface: “We Need a Bigger Dumpster”

Cold Cave: “Prayer From Nowhere”

Garbage: “No Gods No Masters”

Half Waif: “Swimmer”

Mia Joy: “Saturn”

Other notable new tracks in the last week include:

The Alchemist: “Loose Change” (Feat. Earl Sweatshirt)

Mykki Blanco: “Love Me” (Feat. Jamila Woods and Jay Cue)

Bowerbirds: “The Party”

Molly Burch: “Control”

Colleen: “Hidden in the Current”

Counting Crows: “Elevator Boots”

Current Joys: “Money Making Machine”

Eades: “Coltrane”

Billie Eilish: “Your Power”

The Flaming Lips: “Lay Lady Lay” (Bob Dylan Cover)

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds: “We’re On Our Way Now”

The Goa Express: “Second Time”

Gojira: “The Chant”

Good Morning: “Mollyduker” and “Keep It”

Miranda Lambert, Jon Randall, & Jack Ingram: “Geraldene”

Mary Lattimore: “Flowers on Flowers”

Lord Huron: “I Lied” (Feat. Allison Ponthier)

LSDXOXO: “The Devil”

MadGic: “Mars Only pt. 3”

Mannequin Pussy: “Perfect”

Tom Morello & Pussy Riot: “Weather Strike”

mui zyu: “pour a brain”

Parting: “Jesse Eisenbird”

countyourluckystars · Parting- Jesse Eisenbird

SeeYouSpaceCowboy: “Painting a Clear Picture From a Unreliable Narrator”

Split Single: “(Nothing You Can Do To) End This Love”

Spring Summer: “Oh Brother”

Sufjan Stevens: “Celebration VIII”

Sunny War: “Losing Hand”

Sunset Lines: “Season of the Witch”

Sharon Van Etten: “Some Things Last a Long Time” (Daniel Johnston Cover)

Matt Sweeney and Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy: “Resist the Urge”

Warpaint: “Lilys”

Hayley Williams: “Colour Me In” (Broadcast Cover)

WILLOW: “t r a n s p a r e n t s o u l” (Feat. Travis Barker)

(Thanks to Joey Arnone for helping to put this week’s list together.)

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